Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Getting the Word Out

A Church in Indiana has began a billboard campaign challenging Christians to re-examine their assumptions about what the Bible says about homosexuality.

According to 365Gay.com, “the campaign is being coordinated by Jesus Metropolitan Community Church of Indianapolis, with support from Faith In America and Metropolitan Community Churches worldwide.” Faith In America is a national organization dedicated to ending the injustice of religion-based bigotry against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people.

The 30-day campaign utilizes a series of billboard messages that highlight Scriptural passages that affirm gay people and their relationships. One billboard message boldly declares: “Jesus affirmed a gay couple. Matthew 8:5-13.” The campaign is also using yard signs, bumper stickers and T-shirts to get its message out. In addition, each billboard and yard sign invites viewers to visit a web site that provides detailed support for the Scriptural claims – www.WouldJesusDiscriminate.com. For instance, about the “Jesus affirmed a gay couple” message, the web site notes:

From our days in Sunday school, many of us are familiar with the Gospel story where Jesus healed the servant of a Roman centurion. This story is recorded in Matthew 8:5-13 and Luke 7:1-10. In Matthew, we are told that the centurion came to Jesus to plead for the healing of his servant. Jesus said he was willing to come to the centurion’s house, but the centurion said there was no need for Jesus to do so — he believed that if Jesus simply spoke the word, his servant would be healed. Marveling at the man’s faith, Jesus pronounced the servant healed. Luke tells a similar story. Just another miracle story, right? Not on your life! In the original language, the importance of this story for gay, lesbian, and bisexual Christians is much clearer. . . .The Greek word that the Roman centurion uses in this passage to describe the sick man – pais – is the same word used in ancient Greek to refer to a same-gender partner.

According to 365Gay.com, “Jesus MCC, Faith In America, and MCC conducted a pilot project in Indianapolis [last summer], using billboards and yard signs to ask a simple question: ‘Would Jesus Discriminate?’ Organizers say this year’s project will be bigger and bolder, moving beyond a gentle question to propose a bold answer that some may find unsettling.”

“I can already hear tires screeching across Indianapolis as folks see the billboards.” says Rev. Jeff Miner, Senior Pastor of Jesus MCC. “Most people have no idea that the Bible contains passages that powerfully affirm gay people.”

The 365Gay.com article also quotes Rev. Jimmy Creech, Executive Director of Faith In America , who observes that, “In the past, many Christians misused the Bible to support slavery, oppose equal rights for women, and oppose interracial marriage. They went so far as to accuse people on the other side of being unbiblical. The same thing is happening again with respect to same-gender relationships. It has to stop.”

I think what this coalition of Christian faith communities and organizations is doing in Indianapolis is great. The idea of a similar type of campaign has been discussed by a number of Catholic folks here in the Twin Cities. Both the Catholic Pastoral Committee on Sexual Minorities (CPCSM) and Catholic Rainbow Parents, for instance, were eager to do something as pro-active and highly visible as a billboard campaign when efforts to pass a state constitutional amendment banning same-gender marriage were underway in Minnesota in 2004-2006. The cost of such a campaign, however, was prohibitive.

One Catholic group that has managed to fund such a campaign is the Catholic Action Network. This organization’s Holy Families Committee not only challenged the Courage movement (as CPCSM did in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 2003) but placed the billboard pictured below in St. Louis, Missouri. (The inspiring history of this committee and its work in St. Louis can be found here.)

Reading about the great work of these various Christian groups across the US makes me all the more committed to being part of this Thursday’s Lobby Day at the Minnesota State Capitol. Along with others from both CPCSM and Catholic Rainbow Parents, I’ll be present as part of the Faith Family Fairness Alliance.

If you’re a Minnesotan person of faith dedicated to Jesus’ radical message of liberating inclusion, and/or a citizen of Minnesota who is opposed to unfair discrimination based on sexual orientation, than I encourage you to join with thousands of others at the State Capitol this Thursday from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Of course the highlight of the day will be, as always, the opportunity to visit with one’s legislators and advocate pro-active legislation for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people and their families.

Another highlight will be the 12 noon – 1:00 p.m. Rally for Fairness on the steps of the Capitol, at which thousands of LGBT persons, their friends, families, and allies will show their support of legislative efforts to move Minnesota toward LGBT equality. In recent years, this rally has become the second-most attended LGBT event in Minnesota, after summer’s Twin Cities Gay Pride. OutFront Minnesota is reporting that for this year’s rally, “buses and carpools are already planned from Duluth, Rochester, and elsewhere across the state.” A great line-up of speakers and musicians is also planned.

Clearly, the Rally for Fairness is not to be missed!

Following is the speech I delivered to a crowd of around 5,000 people at the 2004 Lobby Day rally. At that time, attempts were underway to pass the previously mentioned constitutional amendment banning same-gender civil marriage and all legal equivalents – including domestic partnerships and civil unions. Those opposed to this proposed amendment recognized and called it the “Minnesota Anti-Marriage Amendment.” Thankfully, this amendment was defeated in May of 2006.


CPCSM Offers a Progressive Catholic Voice at the Capitol
The Rainbow Spirit
Fall 2004

The following speech was delivered by Michal Bayly (above), Executive Coordinator of the Catholic Pastoral Committee on Sexual Minorities (CPCSM), during OutFront Minnesota’s Just Fair Rally on March 25, 2004, and Faith Speaks Out event on May 5, 2004. Both events were held at the Minnesota State Capitol and expressed widespread opposition to a proposed Constitutional amendment which would ban civil marriage between same-sex couples.

For close to a quarter-of-a-century, CPCSM has served as a grassroots, independent organization dedicated to creating just and safe places for LGBT people within the Catholic Church and wider society.

We do not speak officially for the archdiocese. Nevertheless, we are a coalition of Spirit-filled people – both gay and straight – grounded in our Catholic faith. We recognize this faith – like all authentic spiritual traditions – to be a living, growing, and richly diverse reality.

The Minnesota Anti-Marriage Amendment does not reflect such a reality. Instead, it is a narrow, stagnant, and life-denying ploy rooted in homophobia, discrimination, and the politics of distraction.

From a Catholic perspective, the Minnesota Anti-Marriage Amendment is contrary to Catholic teaching on social justice. Furthermore, this amendment is completely out of step with a broad consensus among the world’s Catholic theologians who insist that gay and lesbian persons should be treated with dignity, fairness, and justice.

This same position has been endorsed by the United States Catholic Bishops in their pastoral statement entitled Always Our Children, where they write, “Respect for the God-given dignity of all persons means the recognition of human rights and responsibilities. The teachings of the Catholic Church make it clear that the fundamental human rights of homosexual persons must be defended and that all of us must strive to eliminate any forms of injustice, oppression, or violence against them.”

These are powerful statements. We believe that such statements, rooted as they are in Jesus’ call for social justice, supersede certain teachings of the Church that reflect a medieval and inadequate understanding of human sexuality – teachings that are thus unresponsive to the presence and movement of the Spirit in the lives and relationships of LGBT people.

For these reasons, my friends, we as Catholics oppose the Minnesota Anti-Marriage Amendment. And as Catholics, we stand united with all people of good faith and conscience.

We stand united against any and every unjust discrimination against the basic social rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people.

We stand united in recognizing that civil marriage is one of these basic social rights.

And we stand united in saying “No!” to the Minnesota Anti-Marriage Amendment.

Above: CPCSM president, Mary Lynn Murphy; CPCSM co-founder, Bill Kummer; and CPCSM treasurer, Paul Fleege at the Minnesota State Capitol - May 5, 2004.

Above: Paul Fleege and Mary Lynn Murphy suspend a banner over a balcony railing inside the Minnesota State Capitol - May 5, 2004.

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
The Real Gay Agenda
On Civil Unions and Christian Tradition
The Bible and Homosexuality
Good News from Minnesota
Making Sure All Families Matter
CPCSM’s Year in Review (2006)


Anonymous said...

Minnesota getting you down? Minnesota has lots of snow and mosquitos. Come to Massachusetts! And bring your businesses, know how, and taxes with you!

All the Best, -B

episcopalifem said...

Michael- I like that campaign, noting that there are alternate interpretations of the word of God.

Anonymous said...

Leviticus? You've gotta be kidding me. That's the book where you have to call the rabbi when you have mold in your bathroom right? And he has a good look to see if it's red or black, and then decides if you need to tear down your house and throw all the bits into the unclean place, which by the way, is where you need to hang out during your period all by your lonesome. Unless your husband has relations with you during that time, in which case he's unclean to. And judging by your blog, if you are married, I'd be shocked if you aren't using the rythm method, so that'd be a lot of potential unclean place time.

But back to the mold thing. i think the rabbi can fix the mold by swinging a dead bird around on the end of a hissup stick of a certain length.

You follow all those rules? Didn't think so. They call it a NEW COVENANT.

And in that new covenant there's a couple of new rules, like Thall Shall not Judge, and thall shalt love they neighbor as thyself.

Read more about it here:


All the Best,